“But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities in which they lived. The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak… They also feared the Lord and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. So they feared the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away…
“The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, ‘You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. And the statutes… that he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. You shall not fear other gods, and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not fear other gods, but you shall fear the Lord your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.’ However, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner.
“So these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images.” 2 Kings 17:29-31a,32-33,35-41a
God gives clear commands and man likes to add his variants: ‘Sure, I’ll do what You say, but I’ll add my spice, my preferences, my twist.’ After all, we are most comfortable being our own gods, managing a la moi- isn’t then life more fun and rules more palatable?
But Almighty God says, ‘You shall bow to the LORD,’ and when we do this sincerely and humbly, we glimpse His glory and find no other surrender satisfies. There is much inherent in the act of bowing that seeps deep into our souls. Bowing says, ‘Here am I. Bowing abases our pride and exalts the One before whom we are still. Bowing surrenders impetus and will. It hushes our drive and subverts it to the Lord’s. Bowing the knee yields to God’s blessing, and lifts the hands. (Isaiah 6:1-8)
Bowing is not forced, but is commanded, right, and due our Worthy King. Gracious God respects our freedom and we decide whether to bend the knee or not. If we spend our time and focus on self and the importance of my ego and agenda, we’ll never see the need to get off our self-erected pedestal. When we see ourselves for the helpless sheep we are, and God for the pure and exalted King He is, we will bow. Which will it be?
Where am I foolishly mixing allegiances? Whom or what have I set beside God on my idol throne? Have I inadvertently allowed more gods than One to capture my affection? Bow! (Exodus 20:3-5)
Oh Lord, calm and quiet my soul before Your majesty, with eyes raised to Thee alone. Keep me hungry and humble before You always, bowing before Your honor, sovereignty, grace, mercy, holiness. May I give You the sacrifices and fear and reverence and praise You deserve. (Psalm 131:1-2)